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NEW YORK (CNN) – A Georgia father is charged with murder for leaving his toddler son in a hot car while he went to work.
Justin Ross Harris told police his son’s death was an accident, but investigators say they have reason to believe otherwise.
Early Wednesday morning exactly one week ago Justin Ross Harris was seen at this Atlanta-area Chik-Fil-A.
The newly-released arrest warrant says after breakfast Harris was seen strapping his 22-month old son Cooper into his carseat.
He drove less than a mile away to this home depot store support center where he works as a web designer. Normally, Harris takes his son, Cooper to a daycare on site, but not on this day. Instead, Harris headed inside the office and left his toddler in his rear-facing carseat in the back in the blazing Georgia sun.
Investigators say Harris returned to the SUV, at lunchtime, opened the driver’s side door, and placed something inside. He then closed the door and walked off.
The temperature outside hit 88 degrees, that afternoon. The temperature inside the SUV potentially exceeded 130 degrees. Cooper was likely already dead.
The arrest warrant says at 4:16 that afternoon, the end of the work day, Harris returned to the SUV and started the drive home.
Seven minutes later and about two miles down the road, Harris screeched into this parking lot “hopped out of the driver’s seat, opened the back door, pulled his child out, laid him on the concrete, tried to resuscitate him.”
But little Cooper was dead. Patrol officers were in the area when the 911 calls came in.
“Medical personnel determined the child apparently had been in the father’s automobile since about nine o’clock this morning.”
Harris told police he’d somehow forgotten to drop Cooper off at daycare that morning.
“You could feel his sorrow and his hurt because of his situation.”
“He just screamed what have I done loudly, obviously it was a bit dramatic, you know – hands in the air, looking up towards the sky ‘what have I done’ type of thing.”
But police say it was all an act.
When officers asked Harris basic questions about his story they say those answers just did not make sense.
Then police say Harris cursed and screamed at them.
They took him to police headquarters, questioned further and ultimately charged him with cruelty to a child and felony murder.
“He’s fully aware of what he’s charged with and he’ll be entering a plea of not guilty at this time,” Sgt. Dana Pierce said.
More than 10,000 people signed an online petition urging the district attorney to drop the charges.
Sarah writes, “this is unjust.”
“Let him go please” Mary asks.
And from Dianne “Show some compassion. Go after those parents who intentionally harm their children.”
“I think it is impossible that this was intentional. There’s now way it would have been intentional especially from the father’s reaction.”
But investigators disagree.
A Cobb County sergeant tells CNN, “What I know about this case shocks my conscience as a police officer, a father and a grandfather.”
Now what investigators want to know is why.
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